April 13, the Thirty-First Day of Lent
April 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
The author of Hebrews continues relating the story of the capture of Jericho to his audience. Yesterday, we read about the faith of the people outside the walls of Jericho, the faith of the conquerors. However, today we will shift our perspective and read about the faith of someone who lived inside those same walls.
This is an interesting change. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, are following God’s orders and marching against a pagan city to destroy it. One of the last places that we would expect to hear about a person who demonstrated faith would be from within this city that was marked for destruction; and yet, there was such a person.
The story of Rahab can be found in Joshua 2. Joshua has sent out spies to infiltrate the land and spy on Jericho. These men gain entrance to the city and stay at the local brothel, a place where identities are concealed. And yet, the town knows about their entrance; the king sends messengers to ask Rahab, the prostitute, about it, and she says they have gone away. After the messengers leave, she pulls them out of their hiding place and asks for protection.
This is an amazing story. In the words of Dr. Lawson Stone, “Two men go to the whorehouse to cool their heels for a while, and the lady running the show starts reciting the Apostles’ Creed.” Clearly, Rahab is more than a whore; she is a shrewd lady of business, known in the city, able to take care of and provide for her family, and, most importantly, she fears the Almighty God. She strikes a deal with the spies; in return for their safety, they must guarantee the safety of her family.
The spies took a risk by agreeing, but not as big as the risks that Rahab took. She aided and concealed the enemies of her people, she lied to the king, she placed her trust fully in the agents of the invaders, and she had to wait and see if the spies’ word was as good as her own. It was, and her faith was rewarded. After the destruction, her family was allowed to join Israel; in fact, she is mentioned as part of the bloodline of Christ in Matthew 1.
Stories like this remind us that God’s Kingdom is open to all; the story of faith can be joined by anyone. We may wonder what the spies thought as they returned to their camp; is a promise made to a Gentile worth keeping? Apparently so; and when Israel kept faith with a prostitute, they provided an example of how Christ keeps faith with those who seek him, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
As we journey through Lent together, may we rejoice to see others join the story.
“Dear Lord, thank you for stories like this one that demonstrate your love and acceptance. I repent of the times that I have thought someone was not worthy of your love or a place in what you are doing in the world. Please help me to see all people as you do, with eyes of love and a heart of grace. Amen.”